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“So you’re sticking with the story then?” Grace asked me as she leaned against the locker next to mine. I avoided looking at her; the girl had a way of figuring out whether you’re lying just by looking at you. I quickly took out the books I needed for my next class and steadied myself. I had to stick to the plan, no matter how tempted I felt, I could not and I repeat I could NOT tell anyone about what had happened.

“Since that’s what happened, I have no choice do I?” I replied, turning on my heel and walking to class. I could feel Grace’s gaze on my back and I knew she wasn’t one to give up so easily. Grace Rivers, my best friend, shy and quiet for the rest of the world but a total handful for me. She’d put me through hell the past week for disappearing without a notice and then not contacting her and making her sick with worry. I felt guilty, really guilty about lying to her but I was more scared about what she’d think when I told her the truth about me. She’d think I was a freak, a wreck and a completely lost cause, right? Which is exactly why Noah and I came up with the perfect plan to curb everyone’s curiosity, but it was getting harder and harder to convince Grace of it.

“You could’ve told me you know I get that it was supposed to be this huge secret but if your dad needed to leave the country for his treatment then the least you could’ve done was to tell your best friend and your boyfriend that you weren’t going to be here for five months. I mean even if you ignore the fact that you didn’t tell me, how could you do that to Noah? Do you know the hell that boy’s been through?”

I gritted my teeth, I did not need reminders, I knew exactly what I’d put him through and the fact was basically thrown in my face every time I looked at him. The worst part? He still loved me; he still cared so much for me, despite the fact that I caused him so much pain.

“I’m sorry okay Grace? I’m sorry but I couldn’t tell you, no one apart from the immediate family was supposed to know. It would’ve been bad for dad’s campaign, his opponents could’ve taken advantage of sickness and we couldn’t risk that?” I replied curtly and stalked off in the opposite direction. I was glad I didn’t have this class with her, all the lying was making me sick.

I heard Grace calling out to me but I just pushed her voice out and entered the classroom, just in time for the second bell. I looked around for familiar faces but found none, when I’d left I didn’t even have this class but due to some sort of a schedule problem they’d made me take AP Calculus and all I wanted to do was bang my head against a wall. Math, I really hated math.

People still stared at me, wherever I went and I couldn’t blame them. I had just literally disappeared off the face of the planet and was now back, pretending that nothing had changed. My group of friends had told anyone who asked about my dad but that didn’t stop the curious bystanders from probing. Where were you? Were you sick? Are you dying? Yes, I got asked those questions on a regular basis and I answered them with as much patience as I could muster.

After a rather torturous forty-five minutes class ended and thankfully it was the last class of the day and for that matter, the week. I was so ready to go home and collapse on my bed, shut the world out and sleep through the weekend. Yes, I know my social life is so exciting; I rolled my eyes at my own pathetic sarcasm and didn’t even see Noah waiting for me by my locker. I simply passed by him since I was focusing on the floor and only realized he was behind me when he slung his arm around my shoulder.

“You okay?” he asked and I knew he sensed that I hadn’t exactly had the best day. I leant my head on his chest, not caring if people were looking. “I’ve been better. I just hate lying so much.” I murmured and he moved his arm from my shoulder to my waist, holding me tight against him. It was comforting as usual, his touch but today even that felt unsettling. I ignored that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach and sank into him.

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